New Jersey man sentenced for selling threatened turtles in the mail

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 20, 2015 5:54 PM

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New Jersey man was sentenced on Tuesday to five years of probation for tying threatened turtles in tube socks and selling them through the mail.

Patrick Elfers, 48, of Jersey City, New Jersey, kept various turtles at his home from 2011 to 2014. They included spotted turtles, North American wood turtles and Eastern box turtles, all of which are protected under state law, according to federal prosecutors.

Elfers shipped turtles to buyers in New York, using tube socks to keep the creatures from moving too much inside packing boxes, authorities said. He also advertised the turtles for sale on wildlife trade websites; for instance, he listed two spotted turtles for $450 in 2012.

Elfers previously pleaded guilty in June to one count of conspiring to violate federal law prohibiting the interstate sale of protected wildlife.

As part of his plea agreement, Elfers turned over 40 turtles and paid a fine of $30,000 to help care for and house them.

Elfers worked with a co-conspirator from West Virginia who was not identified in court papers.

(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Dan Grebler)